Google Thinks You’re a Foogle

At Google’s inception, founders Sergei Brin and Larry Page eschewed advertising, concerned that people would think financial interests might skew the search engine’s results.



Via the Wall Street Journal (print edition headline):

Deceptive Web Ads Draw Flak, Little Action

Federal regulators last year told Google Inc., Yahoo Inc., and Microsoft Corp. to more clearly highlight the ads in their search-engine results, to avoid deceiving consumers.

In response, the three leading U.S. search engines have done little, making it difficult for users to distinguish ads from BN-EZ181_search_J_201410131345192-290x290“natural” search results. Google earlier this year stopped placing colored shading around ads, and now displays a small yellow “Ad” label next to some paid links. The shading of ads on Yahoo and Microsoft’s Bing search results is nearly imperceptible; both search engines label ads with a single line of light-gray text.

“Consumers are being tricked,” says Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, a consumer-advocacy group whose complaints helped push the U.S. Federal Trade Commission in 2002 to first issue guidelines recommending that search engines clearly delineate listings that are ads.

That’s not happening, according to Rolfe Winkler’s Journal piece.

Nuts-to-you grafs:

The shading behind ads on Bing and Yahoo is so light that it is difficult for search-engine users to notice, says Public Citizen’s Mr. Weissman.

He and others say Google’s yellow “Ad” label is a better disclosure.

“That’s not saying much, because Google is still trying to deceive consumers,” says Jakob Nielsen of Nielsen Norman Group, a consultancy that focuses on how people interact with websites.

Read the whole Journal piece. If it doesn’t piss you off, you deserve what you get.

Originally posted at Sneak Adtack.

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Correction o’ the Day (Shaquille O’Neal Edition)

From Monday’s New York Times Correction Central:


A picture caption on Thursday with an article about the Shaq Summit, a daylong seminar about Shaquille O’Neal’s business ventures, misidentified the woman shown watching a presentation with O’Neal. She is Laticia Rolle, his current girlfriend — not Nicole Alexander, a former girlfriend. And the article described incorrectly one of the products he endorses. It is a medicated powder, not a medicated power.

The piece in question:

Looming Even Larger Off the Court

Shaquille O’Neal Has His Hands Full as a Pitchman


ATLANTA — Shaquille O’Neal arrived at Turner Studios on a recent weekday morning wearing a tailored suit, size 60XL, and carrying a leather briefcase. He sat at a table at the front of the room, cracked open his laptop and prepared for a daylong seminar on a subject that was uniquely familiar to him: Shaquille O’Neal.

The occasion was the third annual Shaq Summit, a gathering of representatives from O’Neal’s many business ventures — a group that included the president of Zales (O’Neal has a men’s jewelry line) and executives from Arizona Beverages (O’Neal has a new fruit punch). One by one, they presented their campaigns and their products, and they detailed how O’Neal, the former N.B.A. star, figured into their plans.

“We’d like to see if we can create a little synergy under the Shaq umbrella,” O’Neal said.

So, to recap: That’s the back of Laticia Rolle’s head in the photo above, not Nicole Alexander’s. We have no idea where her head is, but of course we hope it’s in a good place.

Meanwhile, we’re glad the whole Girlfriend of Shaq thing is officially sorted.

But, damn – Medicated Power would be a great breakout session at the next Shaq Summit, wouldn’t it?

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To Ello With Us, Part 2

As the hardwishing staff noted last week, we – along with countless other schlubs – petitioned the Prom Queen of Social Media for an invitation to join her posse.

What we got back was this pat on the head.




So we waited. And waited. And finally got this tease-tease-me message several days ago.


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Uh-huh. Well here’s our message back to Ello.



Why don’t you.


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Let Timmy Smoke ‘Em! (2014 NLCS Edition)

The hardworking staff has long been a fan of San Francisco Giants twirler Tim Lincecum (see here). And although we’re just now starting to pay serious attention to baseball’s postseason, we’ve had half an eye out for Lincecum up to now, and seen a whole lot of nothing.

So, as is our wont, we investigated a bit. And here’s what we we found (via SFGate).

Tim Lincecum handling loss of spotlight with aplomb

ST. LOUIS — Sports can be so humbling.

One instant, you’re the most important player on a team. And then, suddenly, you’re not.

How athletes handle that fall in status is one of the fascinating things to watch in sports. Their humbling happens publicly, in 920x680the spotlight’s unforgiving glare. Some pout. Rage against the fates. Blame managers, media, teammates.

And others handle their demotion with grace. Sometimes the toughest moments reveal the strongest character.

We’ve seen it in the Bay Area. Alex Smith handled the loss of his starting job with the 49ers with more poise than most of us could imagine mustering. In 2010, Barry Zito was left off the postseason roster, worked tirelessly to be ready in case he was needed, and was redeemed in 2012.

This year, it’s Tim Lincecum’s turn. In five postseason games, he hasn’t been used. One of the most popular Giants in history, one who personified the team’s championship run, has become an afterthought.

But an afterthought with class: “I’ve got to do my best to be a good teammate . . . What these guys have been able to do is pretty special. Not to be a part of it didn’t really take any skin off my back. Because everyone did something good, something special and we won. That’s the ultimate goal.”

Here’s hoping Timmy gets to smoke some batters again – when it counts – before this is all over.

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Hot New Website Says to Ello with Us

As many of you splendid readers undoubtedly know, the social media flavor of the week is Ello, the vaunted anti-Facebook.

From Yahoo! Tech:

‘Anti-Facebook’ Social Network Ello Gets Viral Surge


In a matter of days, the new social network Ello, described as the “anti-Facebook” for its stand on privacy and advertising, has become perhaps the hottest ticket on the Internet.

Created last year as a “private” social network, Ello ( recently opened its doors on an invitation-only basis.

So the hardworking staff asked for one.

And here’s what we got back:


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In other words, take a number, numbnuts.

Meanwhile, The Manifesto:

Your social network is owned by advertisers.

Every post you share, every friend you make and every link you follow is tracked, recorded and converted into data. Advertisers buy your data so they can show you more ads. You are the product that’s bought and sold.

We believe there is a better way. We believe in audacity. We believe in beauty, simplicity and transparency. We believe that the people who make things and the people who use them should be in partnership.

We believe a social network can be a tool for empowerment. Not a tool to deceive, coerce and manipulate — but a place to connect, create and celebrate life.

You are not a product.

We’re also not invited to join Ello yet. But so far we’re not taking it personally, due to this:

Because of the limited supply and strong demand, the invitations have been selling on eBay at prices up to $500. Some reports said Ello is getting up to 35,000 requests per hour as a result of a viral surge in the past week.

Full disclosure: We don’t have $500. But we will keep you posted.

For free.

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A Jason Gay Ol’ Time (Patriots Crystal Ball Edition)

The always readable Wall Street Journal sports columnist (and Massachusetts native) Jason Gay had this piece in yesterday’s edition.

What Does New England Have Left?


Over the weekend, the Boston Red Sox and their fans bid adieu to non-football-playing sports human Derek Jeter in a mildly strange but well-intentioned farewell behind enemy lines. Fenway Park has hosted some muted goodbyes to legends—when John Updike watched Ted Williams scurry off with a home-run blast in 1960, there were just 10,453 on hand on a day the author described as “overcast, chill and uninspirational.” Sunday’s tribute to Jeter, a long-admired nemesis, featured better weather and a more robust crowd . . .

If a gracious Jeterfest was a surreal look for Boston, so is the current insecurity surrounding the local football concern, the New England Patriots. On Monday evening, Bill Belichick’s Outerwear Fashion Superstore visits the Kansas City Chiefs at Arrowhead Stadium, and though the season is young, and the Patriots are a reasonable 2-1—the Jacksonville Jaguars would surrender all their cat chow and cat toys to be 2-1—there is a whiff of anxiety surrounding a team that has made the playoffs 10 of the last 11 seasons.

Bonus quote:

My beloved Massachusetts became a state in 1788 with the expressed mission of putting at least two Dunkin’ Donuts on every corner from Stockbridge to Boston, but it has been a sturdy house of football worship for a decade and a half. In that period, the conversation has seldom been if the Patriots will win, but how the Patriots will win, and despite some soul-crushing postseason losses, including two in Super Bowls to Eli Manning, the football Bucky Dent, regional confidence has endured like the wind off Nantucket Sound.

And then last night the Pats submitted this:

Patriots embarrassed by Chiefs on Monday Night Football

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. — The defense was gashed, the offense largely went nowhere, and the Patriots were embarrassed Monday night in one of the most lopsided losses of the Bill Belichick-Tom Brady era.

The Chiefs drubbed the Patriots, 41-14, in a game that only raised more questions about the personnel on the Patriots’ roster as well as the coaching, and whether either is good enough to bring a perennial playoff contender back for another deep postseason run.

Gay ol’ conclusion (before the Arrowhead Massacre): “This New England era may not be ready for a respectful farewell. But it’s unclear how many at-bats they have left.”

Even more unclear today.

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John Haywood NYT Ad Trashed by a Different NYT Ad

Last week the hardworking staff noted this two-page ad in the New York Times paid for by political wannabe John Haywood, a South Carolina rich guy who mounted a Quixotic presidential run in the 2012 New Hampshire primary.






We’re not on this earth long enough to read rants like that, but apparently, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach is, because here’s what he ran in yesterday’s Times.


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Drive-John-Haywood-nuts graf:


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And there’s plenty more where that came from.


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(See also here for more info on ShumleyWorld.)

Last week we sent an email to Haywood about his ad. Sadly, he failed to respond.

Today we sent another one about the attack ad.

Dear Mr. Haywood,

Just wondering: any reaction to Rabbi Shmuley Boteach’s ad in yesterday’s New York Times blowtorching you for your NYT ad last week?

The Hardworking Staff at Campaign Outsider

As always, we’ll keep you posted.

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Star(chitect) Power in Future Boston, DC Landmarks

This has been a good week for starchitects Renzo Piano and Frank Gehry, both of whom were resurrected in seemingly moribund development projects.

Start with Piano, who designed the ill-fated Tommy’s Tower in 2007, the 1,000-foot-high skyscraper mayor Tom Menino wanted installed in Boston’s Financial District as his legacy project.

Piano dropped out (or was dropped) the following year. Soon after, the entire project was dropped.

But now it’s back, and so is Piano. From yesterday’s Boston Globe:

Proposed Financial District tower could alter Boston’s skyline


Entrepreneur Steve Belkin is resurrecting his plan to build one of Boston’s tallest buildings, a glass tower of up to 740 feet that would be a new centerpiece on the city’s rapidly changing skyline.

The building would occupy one of the last major development sites in the Financial District, replacing a decrepit city-owned parking garage at Winthrop Square with a skyscraper that could cost as much as $900 million to build.

Originally, Belkin proposed a 1,000-foot office tower that drew regulatory objections because it would have interfered with air traffic. He shelved the project during the economic downturn.

This week it was unshelved, as was Piano. According to the Globe, “renowned Italian architect, Renzo Piano, developed the design concept for the building.”

Welcome back, Piano man.

Then there’s Frank Gehry, the starchitect who designed MIT’s Stata Center among other landmark buildings. His Looney-Tunes design just got greenlighted for the Eisenhower Memorial, a historic fiasco chronicled for the ages by the redoubtable Andrew Ferguson in the Weekly Standard last month.

Sins of Commission

You don’t have to be an Eisenhower Memorial groupie—yes, there are such people—to enjoy a new 56-page congressional report called “A Five-Star Folly.” But it helps. The mound of detail will bury all but the sturdiest student of what is shaping EDITS-1.v19-44.Aug11.Ferg_up to be one of the most memorable Washington fiascoes of our young century. A blend of incompetence with arrogance, the saga of the memorial is like an Obamacare rollout for architecture buffs and history weenies.

It’s now nearly 15 years since Congress established the Dwight D. Eisenhower Memorial Commission and told it to think up a tribute to Ike. Since then commissioners have come and gone, among them congressmen, senators, rich folk, and a handful of normal people, assisted by nine staffers. What has remained constant is the commission’s amazing lack of progress. A site for the memorial wasn’t chosen until 2005. It took another four years for the commission to hire a designer—and not just any designer but Frank Gehry, the most fashionable architect of the day. By 2013, Congress had appropriated $65 million for the commission’s work. Finally, last year, while pondering the commission’s request for another $73 million, a few people on Capitol Hill noticed something fishy: The memorial still hadn’t got built. Ground hadn’t even been broken. For that matter, the commission had yet to obtain approval for a final design.

But now they’re one step closer to Gehry’s Folly.

As Ike said about the ads for his presidential run in 1952, “to think that an old soldier should come to this.”

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GOP = Got Our Pitch? (II)

As the hardworking staff recently noted, for reasons unknown we’ve been plunged lately into a Republican fundraising emailstrom.

Representative samples include this missive from Karl Rove (subject line: TIGHT AS A TICK):


President Obama’s approval ratings keep dropping, no reliable poll shows battleground Senate Democrats with over 50% support, and GOP voters are excited to cast their ballots in 41 days. The midterm environment is toxic for Democrats, yet there’s a chance Republicans may not take the Senate. Why?

The Democrats have a huge money advantage. Last month alone, Democrats outraised Republicans by $1.6 million dollars.

They intend to outspend Republicans between Labor Day and Election Day, having bought $109 MILLION in television ads already, compared to $85 million for GOP candidates and their allies so far.

And etc.

We gotta ask: Who exactly is tight as a tick? Republican donors? Senate races? Karl Rove? Damned if we know. And the email never says.

Regardless, here’s our favorite GOPanhandling email (subject line: Pelosi ALL in):

1. Yesterday, we broke the news that [House Minority Leader Nancy] Pelosi recently compared Republicans to the terrorist state ISIS.
2. Then we learned that her campaign machine, the Democratic Congressional Committee, has just been approved for a $10 million loan (!).

Now it’s unclear who in their right mind would loan liberals that kind of money . . .

Uh, maybe the same people who gave House Republicans a $20 million line of credit?

We’re not just through the looking glass here, folks. These idiots (and that includes Democrats) have shattered the looking glass.

Your reflections go here.

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Civilians Who Run Full-Page Ads in the New York Times (FatherEdeh/Peter O Amah Edition)

There was an Embarrassment of International Advocacy Ads (tip o’ the pixel to James Lipton) in yesterday’s New York Times, starting with one about Argentina . . .


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. . . followed by one about South Korea . . .


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. . . followed by one about Africa . . .


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Full disclosure: The hardworking staff is not on this Earth long enough to read the entire ad, but here are the essentials:


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Peter O Amah info here.

Your conclusions here.

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